My identity today is not my past

Nenad Jovisevic

I grew up in a mining town in the south of Serbia. Striving to experience and feel some new excitement, I stepped into the world of drugs as a 12 year old. I thought it was a way to be free and totally different from others. Very quickly I realised that what made me ‘free’ had actually become a chain that restrained me and was dragging me to death. I was convinced that I would die by the age of 30. I didn't care about my life or my parents. 

A few days after my 30th birthday I went to a Christian centre for addiction treatment. I didn't want to go but it was the only door open for me at that moment. At the centre, I met some people with strange stories about Jesus changing their lives. It sounded nice but I knew it wasn't for me.  

After a while at the centre, when my head had cleared a little, I started go to meetings every day where the gospel was preached. They told me that Jesus could change my life too. Again, it sounded nice but I knew it wasn’t for me. However, it was not up to me. 

We read a passage from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7: ‘For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly…’ It didn't sound nice, but it was for me! It was me – poor and miserable. In one sentence the Almighty God showed me why he gave his Son for me. He confronted me with my sin and showed me love. 

For a while my heart stayed hard but his word broke into it like a hammer on a stone. One year after I arrived at the treatment centre, God’s kindness drove me to my knees and led me to repentance. A few months later I was baptised. For the next 10 years, I served as a volunteer for God in the centre. 

A couple of years ago, the Lord in his wisdom brought me to a city where I had not been before and did not think I would ever live. He joined me to the local church and gave me a way to serve him there. He also gave me a wife, who I work with together in an addiction counselling centre that we started at the church. 

A lot of things have changed since the day Jesus intercepted me on my way to ruin, but the desire he gave me to know him even more deeply has not disappeared. I was recommended to study at BTS (Baptist Theological School, Novi Sad) – a place where I can grow and learn how to serve more effectively. I love the word of God and I love to preach it to others. I believe that my gift of teaching is something worth working even harder on and digging deeper and deeper into.

My identity today is not my past. What defines me today is the grace of God.

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Nenad and his wife Ilaria both need partners who can pray for their studies and contribute towards their college fees.

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